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Friday, 29 July 2011

New spin on friction-stir

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
July 28, 2011

Researchers Zhili Feng, Alan Frederic and Stan David in Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Materials S&T Division have made significant progress toward a new metal processing technique, called friction-stir extrusion, that could represent a major advance in converting recyclable materials -- such as alloys of aluminum, magnesium and titanium alloys, and even high-temperature superconductors -- to useful products.

The process also represents a step forward in energy-efficient industrial processes in that it eliminates the melting step in conventional metal recycling and processing. The friction-stir method, as the name implies, derives its heat from spinning metal against metal, and direct conversion of mechanical energy to thermal energy as frictional heat generated between two surfaces.

The ORNL team produced a solid wire of a magnesium-aluminum alloy from machined chips, eliminating the energy and labor intensive processes of melting and casting.

"This process is very simple. You get the product form that you want by just using the frictional heat," said Stan David, an ORNL retiree and consultant who once led the division's Materials Joining group.
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